The American Heart Association recommends everyone to learn CPR, attend CPR training, and if possible obtain a CPR certification. Lisa Wilson’s daughter could have been saved if CPR was performed immediately and an AED device was readily available. This tragedy could have been avoided if people around her know how to properly respond in these emergency situations.
On January 17, 2013, Lisa Wilson’s life was altered irrevocably. She was preparing for her day at work. Lisa turned to watch the television as it was reporting about a young man who had died in an accident.
She watched in horror as the young man's body was shown lying in a ditch, covered in a blanket. She knew that a mother might be viewing the sight of her baby's body flashing across the screen somewhere, and she recalled wondering why a reporter would show this.
Lisa stopped watching television and began to pray. She prayed for this young man, whom she had never met. She prayed for his friends and family and kept praying for his mother.
Fast forward two hours. She received a call, no parent ever wants to receive. She was informed by a faint voice that her son Cory had experienced something and that she should "come quickly."
She only knew that Cory had fainted in class, wasn't breathing, and an ambulance was on the way after asking a few brief questions. Lisa distinctly recalled asking if anyone was performing CPR and receiving a negative response.
Her husband, Kenny, was waiting for her when she arrived at the Statesboro East Georgia Medical Center. They were escorted to the emergency room, where a health doctor sadly described the circumstances that led to Cory's admission to the facility.
She claimed that when Cory collapsed, CPR was not started right away, nor was an automatic external defibrillator (AED) delivered to the scene.
Although CPR was still being performed, she stated that Cory had a poor outlook. Cory was lying dead on a stretcher as Kenny and Lisa were led inside.
Gloved nurses began administering CPR at two-minute intervals one after the other. Although Cory's cheeks were the customary shade of red that typically signaled a chuckle was about to break forth, there was no sound of laughter.
The only sounds were the nonstop monitor blaring and the rhythmic compressions of the drained nurses trying to revive the young woman. She asked to give Cory CPR. She believed she could help because she was a mother, a nurse, and a CPR instructor.
The doctor took her arm and informed her that Cory would not survive. Her husband stood impassively. Space started to whirl. She was unable to breathe. Lisa recalled denying being exhausted. She begged for him to receive additional compressions.
She can still feel the weight of her hands pushing her away from Cory. Then she had the last thought that her firstborn had just been taken away by her own hands. This was the child who had never, in 21 years, raised his voice at her, who was his sister's greatest friend, and who resembled his father the most.
On the day she lost Cory, she recalled praying for another mother that morning as she was driving home. It was the saddest day of her life. She saw the headline, "21-year-old Cory Wilson, a student at Georgia Southern University, collapses and dies in class." She had no idea how she was going to live.
Lisa languished at home for months, devastated and hopeless, and things started to change. She started to sing louder, pray more fervently, and beg for mercy as she had never done before.
Then it arrived—the birth of The Fireball 40 Cory Joseph Wilson Memorial Baseball Tournament. The competition was initially intended to collect money for an AED that would be installed at Cory's favorite baseball field. It was the Sunday school teacher's idea.
The Cory Joseph Wilson Memorial, Inc. was founded in July 2014 and installed 30 automated external defibrillators (AEDs) inside and outside their neighborhood. Over 8,000 people have also received Hands Only CPR/AED training as part of the foundation's ongoing objective.
The "Cory Joseph Wilson Act" was the name given to Senate Bill 245, the CPR in Schools bill, by the Georgia General Assembly in 2016. As high schools step up their efforts to teach CPR to students, we hope that universities will follow suit.
Their family hopes that through continuing education and awareness initiatives, AEDs being rushed to the scene of any emergency will one day be a part of every college campus' emergency response strategy. At the time Cory collapsed, his narrative may have been substantially different had an AED been accessible.
Cory was known to wear a red bandanna. It made him feel invincible. Now Lisa wears a red bandanna bracelet as a symbol of strength and a reminder that one life can make a difference.
Lisa Wilson is now a member of the American Heart Association's 2017-18 Georgia State Advocacy Committee.